Sir, Since the referendum, we’ve seen numerous warnings that the UK food and drink sector will be damaged by Brexit. As the Food & Drink Federation’s Ian Wright has pointed out, the sector employs almost 100,000 EU workers, while high levels of retirement among the ageing workforce threaten to further increase skills gaps. This concern is understandable, given the post-referendum uncertainty about the free movement of people. The focus for the food and drink industry now must be to train and upskill. That means employers taking the opportunity to invest in learning and development, apprenticeships and retraining current workers. But we must also remember that the challenges ahead, not least the urgent need to address growing skills gaps and low productivity, are not down to Brexit alone. They must be addressed long before Article 50 is complete. Equally, in a globalised economy, there should be more focus on longer-term solutions, such as developing skills standards for the food sector that can be recognised on a global scale.
Chris Jones, chief executive, City & Guilds Group